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Deficit headache ahead of budget speech

Deficit headache ahead of budget speech
February 05
09:50 2018

BUSINESS REPORTER

 A budgeted deficit of P8.1 billion will be a constraining factor against various socio-economic challenges, when the Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo presents the national budget for the financial year 2018/2019, today.

Budget pressures caused by the Economic Stimulus Programme and the National Development Plan 11 are attributed to creating the deficit, which apparently caught Government by surprise, even though the treasury had been expecting to run deficits for the next three years.

According to the Budget Strategy Paper (BSP), which is availed annually three months before presentation of the budget, after the estimated total revenues and grants of P58.81 billion and proposed total expenditure and net lending of P66.87 billion for 2018/2019, the government’s budget deficit will grow up to P8.6 billion.

Minister Matambo, at budget Pitsos, which always precede the final presentation on the first Monday of February, expressed concern about the widening budget deficits and vowed to tighten spending supervision from 2018 going forward.

The national budget is expected to among other items, provide for the fast tracked implementation of the National Spatial Plan (NSP), a framework and strategy to influence the distribution of people and activities over Botswana’s territory over a 20-year period by guiding spatial development and investment decisions. The NSP is also a planning tool that aims to align the interventions of ministries, departments, agencies, private sector and civil society organisations. The NSP is also expected to provide for clean water and sanitation programmes.

However, it remains to be seen how Government will tackle the grave concern of 18 percent unemployment, which was included as one of the priority areas of the previous budget.

Meanwhile, the private sector, through apex body, Business Botswana, will be looking to get an assurance from the minister that systems and procedures that are in place to guard the national purse are not open to abuse.

Concerned with reports about possible corruption and money laundering of public funds, Business Botswana opened the year 2018 with a statement which expressed the above concerns as well as issues of governance, accountability and financial management systems that ought to be in place to mitigate any fraud related activities that could occur.

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